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Photo of a hand waving a rainbow flag and a Cuba flag at a pro-LGBTQ+ rights demonstration in Havana, Cuba

Pro-LGBTQ+ rights demonstration in Havana, Cuba

Laura Valentina Cortes Sierra, Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdel, McKenna Johnson and Bertrand Hauger

Welcome to Worldcrunch’s LGBTQ+ International. We bring you up-to-speed each week on a topic you may follow closely at home, but can now see from different places and perspectives around the world. Discover the latest news on everything LGBTQ+ — from all corners of the planet. All in one smooth scroll!

Featuring, this week:

  • Athens banning “sex-normalizing” surgeries
  • Israel giving priority to gay men for Monkeypox vaccines
  • Guatemalan drags making history
  • … and more

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox: Subscribe here.

🇬🇷 Greece Bans “Sex-Normalizing” Surgeries On Children Under 15

Greece’s parliament approved a law last week banning “sex-normalizing” surgeries on babies born intersex, thus preventing doctors from performing such surgeries on children under the age of 15, “unless there is a court decision stating otherwise.”

According to the UN, intersex people “are born with sex characteristics that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies.” “Sex-normalizing” surgeries sometimes lead to sterilization, loss of sexual sensation or other health problems in the past. Malta, Portugal and Germany already banned this procedure.

🇬🇧 Exclusive: The Secret Mission To Evacuate LGBTQ+ Afghans When Talibans Took Over

The BBC revealed exclusive details about a secret mission in Afghanistan to save LGBTQ+ Afghans when the Taliban took over the country. The UK was the first government to offer an evacuation program specifically for LGBTQ+ people, working with charities such as Stonewall and Micro Rainbow in addition to the Canadian organization Rainbow Railroad.

Three of the evacuees included Bella, a teacher who hid that she was transgender all her life; Ali, who lived cautiously to keep officials from finding out he was bisexual; and Ahmed, a former youth worker who is gay (Ali and Ahmed’s names have been changed for security reasons). When the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan last year, LGBTQ+ Afghans began being hunted practically overnight. Ali said that “even a simple song could have been enough to get you in trouble.”

The charities involved in the mission worked with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to secure spots for LGBTQ+ Afghans on the final flights out of Kabul. Upon arrival in the UK after staying in an undisclosed country to await paperwork, Bella, Ali, Ahmed and the others were housed in quarantine hotels. The charity Micro Rainbow has been helping the group settle with lessons and workshops to help them adapt to the new country.

🇷🇺 Russian Tennis Star Comes Out, Criticizes Her Country’s Treatment Of LGBTQ+ People

Photo of tennis player Daria Kasatkina

Daria Kasatkina

Peter Menzel/wikimedia commons


Interviewed by Russian blogger Vitya Kravchenko in Barcelona, Daria Kasatkina, the highest-ranked Russian female tennis player, came out as gay, and went on to criticize her country’s stance regarding LGBTQ+ people. Kasatkina, 25, currently ranked No. 12 in the world, also expressed empathy for Ukrainian tennis players in the context of the war, which she called a “full blown nightmare.”

🇨🇺 Cuba Opens Door To Gay Marriage, Will Hold Referendum In September

On September 25, Cuba will hold a binding referendum on the New Family Code, which would replace the law in force for 47 years. As independent news website El Toque explains, the voters' ballot will contain a single question: Do you agree with the Family Code?

To be considered approved, the Code must reach more than 50% of the valid votes in its favor. If the Yes is imposed, it would legalize, among other measures: same-sex marriage, adoption between same-sex couples, as well as outlining regulations for surrogacy and the role of the family in the care of the elderly.

Even so, this new referendum family code has been criticized, as LGBTQ+ activist Sandra Heidl told Deutsche Welle "the Code includes certain progressive content for the first time, and somehow the government didn't want to take responsibility for it. It seems to me a huge mistake, because they are talking about human rights, and human rights cannot be taken to a referendum."

🇺🇸 Record Number Of LGBTQ+ Candidates In U.S. Election

1,008

A record 1,008 LGBTQ candidates are seeking political office in the U.S., according to data from LGBTQ Victory Fund. This, CNN notes, “coincides with a more sobering statistic,” as this year also sees a record 162 anti-LGBTQ state bills being introduced. It also comes just weeks after the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade, sparking fears that same-sex marriage could be the next target.

🇩🇪 Germany To Commemorate LGBTQ+ Victims Of Nazis For First Time

The German parliament will commemorate for the first time those who were persecuted, imprisoned and murdered because of their sexual orientation in the Nazi state. The event will be held Jan. 27 during the annual memorial hour for the victims of National Socialism. For years this has been demanded by many groups, associations and individuals. German parliament members will put those victims “as the focus of the commemoration ceremony”, SPD politician Bärbel Bas told German daily Tagesspiegel.

Henny Engels, member of the federal board of the Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), stated “In order to draw lessons from all of its facets, history must be kept alive comprehensively. Unfortunately, after the end of National Socialism, the exclusion and suffering of sexual and gender minorities in Germany continued.”

The activist highlighted in the press release, that gay and bisexual men continued to be prosecuted in both West and East German states for years. Section 175 of the Criminal Code was finally abolished on June 11, 1994. The so-called "gay paragraph," dated back to the 19th century. According to Deutsche Welle, “this put an end to the legal persecution of male homosexuals in Germany, which had lasted more than a century.”

🇬🇹 Guatemalan Drag Queens Make Theater History

For the first time, drag queens performed at a public theater in Guatemala. Last week, the Lux, one of the main cultural spaces in Guatemala City, used to hosting film shows, concerts, literary festivals and plays, welcomed a drag event for the first time.

As Guatemalan independent media Agencia Ocote reports, the venue is located in the historic center of the Guatemalan capital, opened in 1936. The night’s objective was to reach audiences beyond the young LGBTQ+ community, with the aim of fitting a bigger crowd than in a bar or other spaces where drag events usually take place.

“We are making history,” Gloria, one of the drag queens declared.

🇺🇸 Department Of Education Invites Florida Student To Delivers Banned Grad Speech


A gay high school senior from Florida delivered his banned valedictorian speech last week at the invitation of U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Last May, Zander Moricz was informed by his school principal that his microphone would be silenced if his speech to graduating seniors mentioned LGBTQ+ issues, advocacy or his sexual orientation, according to news site LGBTQ Nation. Moricz resorted to using a metaphor for the banned subjects, but was invited to deliver the original version in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education.

🇬🇭 Hotline Launched To Assist Ghana's LGBTQ Victims 

One Love Sisters Ghana, an association seeking to empower women to embrace diversity in Islam, is launching a gender-based violence hotline. On their Facebook page, they have encouraged lesbian, bi, queer and transwomen to report all forms of violence they may experience. This is a welcome move in a country where the LGBTQ+ community often suffers from abuse.

The 5 hotlines operate 24/7 with correspondents “ready to listen and render the assistance needed.” One Love Sisters Ghana creates safe spaces for conversations about gender-based violence within Muslim communities and is trying to reach people on multiple platforms.

🇦🇺 Seven Rugby Players Boycott Game Over Pride Jersey


Seven members of the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles team, playing in the Australian National Rugby League (NRL), decided to boycott a game against the Sydney Roosters this Thursday, important for the qualification to the NRL finals. The reason: they refused to wear a jersey carrying the LGBTQ+ rainbow on “religious and cultural grounds,” as part of the club’s initiative to promote inclusivity and diversity in sports.

During a press conference, Manly’s coach Des Hasler apologized on behalf of the club and said it had made a “significant mistake” for not consulting the players beforehand. The situation is seen as an embarrassment for the club, as the first NRL rugby player to openly come out as gay in 1995, Ian Roberts, was playing for the Eagles.

🇮🇱 Israel To Give Monkeypox Vaccines First To Gay Men At Risk

The first 5,000 Monkeypox vaccines are arriving in Israel this week, where at least 105 cases have been confirmed. Health authorities have declared that they will be offered in priority to gay men at risk, since this category of the population has been particularly affected by the virus, which is transmitted through physical contact.

HIV positive men born after 1980 are particularly at risk, as well as men who take pre-exposure prophylaxis medication to avoid contracting HIV. Men who have tested positive for syphilis, chlamydia or gonorrhea since the beginning of the year are also included. Health authorities hope to be able to prevent a larger outbreak by taking such preventive actions.

🇻🇳 ​Trans Woman With “Hug Me” Sign In Saigon Street Overwhelmed By Acceptance

Strangers hug trans woman Do Ba Duy on Nguyen Hue Street

Duy


As part of communication contest in a transgender beauty pageant, 22-year-old Vietnamese Do Ba Duy recorded a social experiment on Nguyen Hue Street in Saigon. She stood with a sign reading "I'm transgender person, you want to hug or throw water?” and waited anxiously for people to react. She was hugged by over 100 people in an hour and a half, and no one threw water at her. The video clip has now gone viral on social media.

OTHERWISE

• South African news site MambaOnline focuses on LGBTQ elders and the importance of learning old tricks

• Feminism in India offers a review of Hindi comedy-drama Badhaai Do which highlights “the suffocation of being queer in a homophobic society.”

• Take a look at Japanese photographer Takashi Homma’s portraits of young members of the queer community in Tokyo.

• Comic book writers, podcasters … Head here to read about some great “Advocates for Change Working to Better Queer Lives.”

• Check out this list of 21 cultural varieties of same-sex unions that have been part of traditional African life.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Welcome To Transnistria: A Trip In Time Back To The USSR

The breakaway republic of Transnistria declared its independence 30 years ago, but not even Russia recognizes it as a country. Transnistria is both nostalgic for the Soviet era and prosperous thanks to Russian funds. And a trip there is the closest you can get to visiting the USSR.

Two women walk past a billboard advertising the presidential election campaigns in Tiraspol, Transnistria.

Lucie Robequain

“It’s like North Korea here — we can’t leave the country.” Dimitri, around 30 years old, takes a passport out of his pocket. Delivered by Transnistria — a “country” recognized by no state, not even Russia — the document allows him to travel to only two places in the world: South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two Georgian enclaves also claiming their allegiance to the Kremlin. Only one issue: There is no airport in Transnistria, so escaping is only an imagined possibility.

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The young man could ask for a Moldavian passport: After all Transnistria, which borders Ukraine along 450km like a snake, is officially part of the country. But the procedure is long and costly. “The government does not want to give us documents that would allow us to vote. They’re scared of who we would put in power!” He smiles. Here, Moscow fascinates while Europe repels, and Western journalists are banned from staying.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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